I've often thought of writing you. As the days keep running by, despite Winter's interminable stay, not one goes by when I don't think to myself, Ah! That would make a good blog icebreaker!
Like when the mercury barely crawled about zero for a week, and our roads and paths were pure ice. Every time we went to collect eggs one of us would fall, smashing all the precious edible gold every day, for nearly a week. It wasn't much to write on but it was sure entertainment in a bad farm sitcom way. Oh no! Not AGAIN! She exclaims, covered in frozen yoke. [[cue laugh track]]
Or the time I trudged up the cellar stairs with a plastic container fished from the bowels of one of our three freezers filled with the summer's haul. I announced proudly to my mother, Nick, and Leland that I would make chicken liver paté out of its contents, only for Nick to turn and laugh. I had found, not the livers, but my very own placenta, packaged discretely and hurriedly in a yogurt container, thrown into the freezer with the vague thought of planting it someday under a tree (but what sort of tree!?) to commemorate Leland's birth. A warning to all future visitors: It now currently resides in the upstairs freezer as I have become a woman of old bones who doesn't like to walk back down the very stairs I had ascended 10 minutes earlier.
I thought about writing to speculate on the pregnancies or general fatness of my ewes. The white ewe is the size of a large truck. So flat and wooly on top that it isn't uncommon to see a chicken or two riding her back around the barnyard. I have spent many a breastfeeding (currently, my lone moments for reading) pouring over the lambing sections of our sheep husbandry books. I am a snarl of anxiety and excitement for the arrival of lambing. I am also uncertain as to their expected due date. I (shamefully) blame the baby for my lack of records last year. All I can be certain of is that they will lamb (if they are bred and not just fat) some time between last Friday and May. Which means I am checking their broad backsides and squeezing little sheep teats every morning in hopes of more precise information.
I thought about writing regarding our newest house-pig, Raleigh. A boar piglet we brought back from North Carolina. He is wickedly cute and is currently a porch gargoyle. Emerging from his kennel stuffed with hay to snort and greet visitors. He and our one-year old German Shepard are bosom buddies, sleeping together on the dog bed and taking walks with each other up the drive way looking for Trouble.
I very nearly wrote you last Saturday when I saw two robins on my drive home, just 15 miles south of our farm. I almost missed them, they floated right up above my window, and then dived away to the side as I sped down the narrow road by the river. I've thought about that pair nearly everyday since, wondering if it was a mirage. Not 500 yards further a flock of snow buntings danced above a hay field thick with a foot of snow ice. They are birds of two separate seasons, requiring two separate kinds of pasture. I must have imagined the robins. And so, there was little to write to you about there, except for the sad hope of a woman who wants to see spring under the blanket of March.
I stayed away from the blog this winter, because this winter has been about Nick and I and Leland getting to know each other. Watching our son grow has been the incredible lesson in humility and love I had hoped it to be. And that is mostly a private (and beautiful) matter, not fit for here, for me and my hopes of this space. It has been restorative to take this break (with the occasional peak into our lives and the lives of our friends via Instagram).
But I write to you today. Nick is at his new off-farm job, running a lab that tests milk samples for local cheesemakers (hooray for off-farm income!). Leland is sleeping. So are the pigs, the cows, the sheep and goats, and chickens. It is midday on March 10th. Everyone is fed. The snow is beginning to fall again with a week of steady snow promised. There is nothing much to do but revel in the quiet of winter. It is now that we must revel in its beauty, in is unrivaled silence. The rest is not eternal, no matter how long winter wears on. Summer is coming and our days will soon be filled with the physical exhaustion the farm demands. It isn't long now until I find myself, inexplicably covered in cow shit, weeding the tomatoes, and from the tiredness abandon my post to lay prostrate under the July sun. Catching my breath and shirking my garden duties I will surely fish my phone out of my short's pocket to fondle photos of this white and frozen landscape and think, ahh! I long for the rest of winter!
So I took the quiet of today to welcome myself back to this space I hold so dear. I look forward to writing to you again soon. But for now one of the dogs just let in the aforementioned gargoyle (pig) and he is tearing into a bag of flour.....I must be off!
The above, are photos of our recent trip to my cousin's farm in North Carolina. Not of Vermont in the winter time, no matter how much I wish it to be so.